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 Respect Life Week 2016

Grades 10-12

For each day, resources include a four-page handout to be distributed in class to each student.  This should serve as the primary resource for your lesson for that day.  Imbedded in the handout are questions for discussion or assessment.  We have provided you with numerous resources for each topic and leave it up to you to choose which are most appropriate for your class and which you prefer to emphasize.  In many cases, there are additional resources that can be used throughout the year to supplement your regular curriculum.

Monday, October 17, 2016
Theme:  Agents of Mercy for the World
Topic:  Bringing Love to a Hurting World
Discipline:  Religion/Whole School
Overview:  Our world often is confused by what true mercy looks like. Pope Francis calls us to a culture of encounter, to recognize the dignity in the person in front of us. This encounter leads us to action on their behalf by serving others through works of mercy. Christ has called us to go and make disciples of all nations and in a special way to give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned, and bury the dead. In so doing, our hearts change and we learn to be merciful as the Heavenly Father is merciful.
Additional Student/Classroom Resources

An Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy 5 minute video with Ascension Press' Fr Mike Schmitz offers a comprehensive and beautiful discussion of the origin and goals for the Year of Mercy. Good to begin a conversation on how we are asked to be agents of mercy. Practical examples that students can put into practice. 

Mercy is Greater 2.5 minute video offers a modern, hipster explanation of mercy and its role in our lives to not only keep us from sin but to excite in us joy for life.

What is Mercy? 4 short videos answering the question, "what is mercy" from different perspectives. Would be a good resource for an assignment asking students to answer the same question themselves through video.

Ocean of Mercy 2.5 minute video with Chris Stefanick discussing the vastness of God's mercy and why we should not be afraid to bring everything we have ever done to Jesus whil will forgive all.

Who is Worthy of God's Mercy? 1.5 minute animated video of Pope Francis explaining mercy to homeless man in Rome.

Need Inspiration on ways to be Agents of Mercy in your community:
51 Corporal Works of Mercy ideas from LifeTeen
Smiling at a stranger ​may be the work of mercy to change our broken world

Year of Mercy in Lego 1 minute light-hearted overview of the Year of Mercy done in Lego is good to use as an introduction to the lesson.

How do you Forgive a Murder​ Time Magazine story about the Charleston shooting of 9 people in Emanuel AME Church. Long article but broken up in stories about each victim. 

Montrell Jackson, police officer shot in Baton Rouge during protest. Washington Post article focuses on his belief that hate is the wrong approach, and his sister's solace found in faith. 

National Catholic Register article calling for prayer for a culture of life in the wake of Dallas police officer shootings.

The nightclub shooting in Orlando had many people more concerned that the event took place inside a gay nightclub than that it took the precious lives of 49 people. A culture of life believes every life is sacred.

Why are We Still Talking About Racism?  4.5 minute video raising questions about why racism still exists today.  Slightly controversial look at the current situation in our culture.  Good for discussion questions.


Year of Mercy website offers overview of the jubilee year of mercy, works of mercy, prayers, suggestions for action, additional lessons and evangelization tools. From Dynamic Catholic.

Vatican's Jubilee Year of Mercy website with an overview of the worldwide celebrations of mercy.

US Bishops' Year of Mercy Resources including prayers, resources from Pope Francis and suggestions for action.

Archdiocese of Los Angeles Year of Mercy resources including confession finder and information about all Pilgrimage Churches in the Archdiocese.

Talking with Kids about Breaking News​ PBS website gives insights into talking with kids of every age about what they are seeing in the news, such as racism, terror, murders, and other terrible happenings.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Theme:  Life is a Gift
Topic:  A World Without Abortion
Discipline: Social Studies/History
Overview:  What would be necessary for abortion to be unthinkable? A world without abortion would see every baby as a gift. Every child would be taken care of. If a family is struggling, neighbors and family members would step in and help them. Families who can’t have their own children would adopt babies and kids in foster care. Mothers and fathers would have paid parental leave. Financially struggling parents would be directed to resources. This is a world that sees children as a gift and takes care of them. This is what it means to build up a culture of life.

Additional Student/Classroom Resources

Abortion is bad for society, bad for women, and ends a human life 4 minute video introduction to the pro-life position by Chris Stefanick. Positive and designed for an early teen audience, this message is one of hope and action.

Loyola Students for Life video, "Dear Pregnant Student" 4 minute video from students at Loyola who outline help, resources, and options for students pregnant on campus.

Julia and Miki's Story 3.5 minute video of a couple seeking parenting resources when they realized they wre pregnant unexpectedly.

Paid Maternity Leave 2 minute Buzzfeed video about the need for paid maternity leave in the US.

Abby Johnson My Church Kicked Me out.pdfMy Church Kicked Me Out Abby Johnson's story of the way she was treated by her church forces us to ask the question of whether our actions could ever be encouraging someone to choose abortion instead of encouraging her to choose life.

Adopted and Loved​—the story of the Lott family. 2 short videos and Q & A from a family with two biological children and four adopted children. They share their understanding of the beauty and dignity of every person and the role of family in building a culture of life. 

Simone Biles’ Adoption Story 2 minutes. She  captured the world’s heart during the Summer Olympics in Rio as she proved herself to be the best female gymnast in the world. Her adoption story shows the true meaning of a family who never falters in love. 

The Beauty of Possibility​ 11 minute video of Ryan Bomberger, CEO of the Radiance Foundation, from OneLife LA 2015. He shares his story of being adopted and an adopted father and what it means to be truly pro-life toward every person, even when life is not picture perfect.  It's how we respond to the unexpected that shows our true humanity.

People make difficult decisions in life.  Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood clinic manager turned pro-life rockstar, offers a unique perspective on making the difficult decision to continue with a pregnancy.  And, she offers links to practical resources that women can use if they are facing an unexpected pregnancy.​

Cultivating Practices of Life in a Throwaway Culture blog post offers a beautiful reflection on the call of Christians to protect life, especially children, throughout history.  What does it mean to really be pro-life?  Are we willing to do what it takes?  Can we overcome our own selfishness and embrace children?

My Generation Will End Abortion​ 6 minute video outlining major milestones in the abortion debate over the last 40 years. Invites viewers to understand how we got to where we are and what must be done to end abortion.

Good sites providing practical resources for pregnant women and families:


bria Medical Clinics offer pregnancy and sexual health in a life-affirming environment
Claris Health offers medical, educational, and counseling services for unintended pregnancies and sexual health concerns
Get Your Care clinic finder helps women find life-affirming medical care in their area
Kids on a Shoestring  practical, frugal, creative solutions to parenting when money is tight
Pregnant on Campus resources for pregnant and parenting students on college campuses nationwide

Pro-life Pregnancy Resources​ can be found easily throughout Southern California.  This website can connect women with 90 pro-life pregnancy centers and clinics through So Cal, make appointments for pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, find post-abortion healing resources, and recommendations for adoption.

US Bishops' Conscience Formation​ overview, especially in light of political activity and faithful citizenship, but the principles apply to all areas of life.

The Art of Forming the Conscience of a Child by Fr John Hardon, SJ gives a beautiful overview of the lifelong process of developing a conscience, and the role teachers, parents, and others play in helping children properly form their consciences.

Pro-life Pregnancy Resources​ can be found easily throughout Southern California.  This website can connect women with 90 pro-life pregnancy centers and clinics through So Cal, make appointments for pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, find post-abortion healing resources, and recommendations for adoption.​

Resources for women and men hurting from a past abortion:

How to Talk to a Friend Who’s Had an Abortion webpage​
Hope after Abortion​

 Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Theme:  Solutions to Crime and Conflict
Topic:  Restorative Justice/ Death Penalty
Discipline: Math
Overview:  The prison system in America is characterized by its emphasis on punishment and retribution. But the Church rightly recognizes that mere punishment is not justice. In particular, long unfair sentences, solitary confinement, and the death penalty can be used in vengeful ways rather than helping the offender to correct the wrong done. Restorative justice emphasizes repentance, repairing the harm done. It allows for victims and families to forgive the offender, and allows the offender to seek that forgiveness.
RLW_day3 (1).pdfDay 3 Student Handout Death Penalty
 Additional Student/Classroom Resources
Catholics and the Death Penalty​ new 5 minute video created for Prop 62 shares the powerful stories of four Catholics closely connected with the death penalty and why they choose the path of mercy.

Death Penalty in America 1.5 minute video from CNN shares statistics in the death penalty in the US

Pope Francis​ speaks to leaders working to end the death penalty 4 minute video provides the moral argument against the death penalty and calls all people of good will to work for abolition.

Archbishop Gomez 2 minute video encouraging all Californians to vote YES on Prop 62 to end the Death Penalty in CA. Plus, It's Time to End the Death Penalty​, Archbishop's column provides an overview of the moral argument against the death penalty and a call to build a culture of life.

Inside Juvenile Prison 6.5 minute video interviews an inmate in juvenile prison and provides a look into his life.

The Power of Forgiveness: Restorative Justice 4.5 minute video shares the story of one woman who has found forgiveness in the most difficult of circumstances.

Homeboy Industries: A Turning Point 25 minute short documentary of the immensely successful program created by Fr Greg Boyle, SJ that assists formerly gang-involved youth become positive and contributing members of society through education and job placement and training.​

Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2016 Great website reports all of the current statistics and helps readers make sense of who is in prison and why. 

The Norwegian Prison where Inmates are Treated Like People, Guardian article discusses Bastoy prison island in Norway where inmates live in a village and learn work and life skills, rather than locked in cells. While controversial, the prison boasts a reoffending rate for released prisoners of just 16%.​

Bishop O’Connell visits Folsom Prison​ with families of the incarcerated through the Get on the Bus program.

Angelus News resources on
Prison Ministry

CA Bishops encourage support of ending death penalty​ official statement in support of Prop 62 on 2016 ballot

Families of Murder Victims Speak Out​ article shares the stories of families who have been victimized and their response to tragedy. Seeking retribution or sowing mercy are often not disconnected and can be difficult.

Infographic on Death Penalty Use of the death penalty has reduced significantly in recent years nationally. This graphic helps us understand who is condemned and who is actually put to death.

Infographic on Incarceration Nearly 1 in 100 US adults are behind bars. This graphic helps us understand exactly who is incarcerated and where.

The Cruel Cost of Solitary Confinement​ article explores the toll on physical and mental health, faith, and potential rehabilitation caused by solitary confinement.

The Death of the Death Penalty: Why the Era of Capital Punishment is Ending​ TIME Magazine article covers state by state the history of the death penalty and how changing attitudes are leading to greater efforts to end it. A long read, but good for a research assignment.

12 Photos of What Death Row Inmates Ordered for their Last Meals​ article helps humanize the issue of the death penalty.


California has the opportunity in 2016 to end the use of the Death Penalty in our state. On the CA ballot in November, vote YES on Prop 62 to end the use of the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. And, vote NO on Prop 66, a bill that would speed up the use of the death penalty. For more information, please see

Thursday, October 20, 2016
Theme:  Salvaging a Throw-Away Culture
Topic:  Preferential Option for the Poor?
Discipline:  English
Overview:  Students will explore what poverty means. They will look at both extreme poverty, such as exists in certain developing parts of the world and practical poverty, such as we have in the US in which even working families struggle to make ends meet and fall further and further behind. Finally, students will be introduced to the concept of development as a process improving not only a person’s socio-economic situation, but also improving their emotional, intellectual, and spiritual opportunities as well. Pope Francis has called us to go out with the joy of the Gospel, to encounter people where they are at. Like Mother Teresa, we are called to serve the poor by looking people in the eye, respecting their dignity, and getting our hands dirty by engaging in works of mercy. 
RLW_day4.pdfDay 4 Student Handout Poverty
Additional Student/Classroom Resources

Catholic Social Teaching 101: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable 4.5 minute video produced by the USCCB offers a great introduction to the Christian's care for and service of the poor.

Tour Poverty USA 4 minute video produced by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development explores what it is like to live life at the poverty line.

Poor Kids, a Frontline special, follows several families living in serious poverty in the US. A 1 hour program that can be broken up into 5 minute segments.

Living on One Project: Change Series explores the adventures of three Americans who travel to Peña Blanco, Guatemela to live on $1/day. Multiple videos here explore living in extreme poverty. Recommended: Episode 3—Hunger and Tortillas; 7 minutes​

Mary’s Meals Stories: Fatima’s Story | Shazia’s Story | Tony’s Story (3-4 mins each)​

Mary's Meals Child 31 Documentary 32 minutes

Interactive Poverty Experience in the US

CCHD Poverty USA quiz and additional activities

Survive 125: An Interactive poverty experience from a developing country

12-part video series about homelessness in Southern California from the Los Angeles Times. Powerful personal testimony. Comprehensive reporting. Excellent resource. 


Looking for services for your family? Looking to offer assistance to families in need?

Los Angeles

Union Rescue Mission
St Vincent de Paul Society of Los Angeles
Catholic Charities of Los Angeles
Habitat for Humanity Los Angeles

United States

CCHD's Poverty USA
American Red Cross

International  ​

Catholic Relief Services
Food for the Poor
Caritas International​

Friday, October 21, 2016
Theme:  Made in God's Likeness
Topic:  Celebrating Special Needs
Discipline:  Science
Overview:  In our world, it is so important that we learn to respect the dignity of the human person, no matter our differences. Unfortunately, people with disabilities experience a great amount of discrimination, including bullying, persecution, and are often targeted for abortion or assisted suicide. If we cannot recognize their dignity, then we need to change our perspective and recognize the incredible lives of those around us. People with disabilities deserve the same love and support as everyone else.
RLW_day5.pdfDay 5 Student Handout Special Needs

Additional Student/Classroom Resources

Paralympics 2016 "Yes I Can!" 3 minute video highlights the very best celebratory approach to people with special needs and disabilities. The music and the amazing sights will leave everyone feeling invigorated.

Elena Della Donne for the Wind​ 2 min video of WNBA star Elena and her special needs sister, Lizzie, who teaches her about life and puts it all in perspective.

Lizzy Velasquez 13 minute TEDx talk by the woman labeled "the ugliest woman in the world" on why her life is so full of joy.

Karen Gaffney 14.5 minute TEDx talk by a woman with Down Syndrome who runs a nonprofit organization dedicated to championing the full inclusion of people with disabilities. She has also swum the English Channel and escaped from Alcatraz. Truly amazing woman with a great positive message!

My Name is Deformed 6 minute video explains how a simple surgery can change lives and identities

Carly's Cafe: An Experience with Autism 2 minute video offers a glimpse of what life is like for a person with autism.

Don't Be Awkward: How to Interact with People with Disabilities 3.5 minute humerous video offers practical tips on ways to be kind, not awkward, toward people with disabilities and special needs.

Dyslexia Experience website offers students an opportunity to see what it is like to read with dyslexia.

Learn what it is like to have ADHD through this website's use of the Stroop Effect.​​​​​​​

The Butterfly Circus 23 minute short film starring Eduardo Verastegui and Nick Vujicic.

99 Balloons 6 minute video shares the amazing story of Elliott, born with Trisomy 18, who lived a remarkable 99 days and changed so many live in the process.

Dear Future Mom of Kids with Downs Syndrome 2.5 minute video from kids who have Down syndrome telling future moms how great their lives really are.

We Are Beautiful 1.5 minute video about conjoined twins who know they are beautiful

Amazing High School Gymnast with just 1 leg competes in regular competitions 2 minute video

Gabe Adams, 5 minute video of a remarkable young man born without arms or legs, shares his strategy for a joyful life.

Paul Smith, 4.5 minute video of an elderly man who doesn't let his cerebral palsy stop him from creating extraordinary typewriter art.

arell Williams' "Happy" for World Down Syndrome Day 4 minutes


This year, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is participating in a fundraising opportunity for the Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of TeletonUSA. Located in San Antonio, TX, the Institute offers services to children and families from birth to 18 years of age with neurological and musculoskeletal disabilities, regardless of their ability to pay. Offering envelopes will be sent to schools for distribution to families suring Advent. 

You can help orphaned children with Down syndrome and other special needs while they await adoption by supporting Reece's Rainbow, a nonprofit organization matches special needs children with families for adoption.​

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